SUNDAY, AUGUST 26, 2012.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF HARVEST
“And Azariah the high priest, from the family of Zadok, replied, ‘since the people began bringing their gifts to the Lord’s Temple, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare. The Lord has blessed His people and all this is left over’ ”(2 Chron. 31v10).
GOD always looks for opportunity to bless His people and Harvest is a veritable tool for attracting these blessings.
Last weekend, the Diocese of Niger Delta in Rivers State celebrated its Annual Diocesan Harvest at St James’ Anglican Church, Bie-ama, Port Harcourt with the theme: ‘Harvest of Blessing’. The Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev. Raphael Ebirien, was full of thanks to God for sparing the life of the parishioners to witness the ceremony. He expressed satisfaction at attendance of the 12 archdeaconries that make up the Diocese. He was of the opinion that God is at work and would bless the Diocese tremendously.
Expounding the theme, Rector of Ibru Centre, Ven. Ernest Onuoha, noted: God scatters His blessings upon His people everywhere. He is not limited by space and time and so nothing can inhibit His blessings. More so, His blessing adds no sorrow. Even now, God is blessing people and nations of the world.
The people of Israel and Judah were cut out from the blessings of God. Why? They had a wicked King, Ahaz, who led the nation to sin. There was idolatry in the land. Temple worship was stopped. Priests and Levites were refused performance of their sacred duties. Ahaz gave God the back seat. The scripture, however, says: ‘when the wicked are in power, the people groan’ (Prov. 29v2 b).
God is jealous. He warned His people: ‘thou shall not have any other God beside me’. Yet, Ahaz did abominable things and prevented the people from accessing the blessings of God. The scripture noted: ‘even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him. For he said, ‘since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them’. But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. The king took the various articles from the Temple of God and broke them into pieces. He shut the doors of the Lord’s Temple so that no one could worship there, and he set up altars to pagan gods in every corner of Jerusalem. He made pagan shrines in all the towns of Judah for offering sacrifices to other gods. In this way, he aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of his ancestors’ (2 Chron. 28v22-25). No wonder, when he died, he was buried in Jerusalem but not in the royal cemetery of the Kings of Judah. (2 Chron. 28v27)
But God was still determined to bless the people of Israel. In the place of Ahaz, He raised Hezekiah, a righteous king and religious reformer. He put out all idolatrous practices, purified the priests and the Levites and returned the people to true worship. This re-organisation led him to announce the need to re-enact the feast of Passover. ‘People rejoice if they have a good ruler’ (Prov. 29v2 a).
Unsurprisingly, the people were happy to return to God and this triggered blessing upon them. God honours those who honour Him.
The blessings of God upon Israel and Judah manifested in three dimensions:
First, the people gave generously in support of God’s work (2 Chron. 31v5). This was in agreement with what St Paul taught: ‘every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9v7).
Christians express their appreciation to God at Harvest because it is a time of blessing and generosity. We are called upon to be generous because God, through His Son, became poor that we might be rich (2 Cor. 8v9).
Second, the people tithed not only their income but also their belongings (2 Chron. 31v6). The blessings of God were so much upon them that they could not but yield to tithing. Tithe unlocks the door of God’s blessings upon His people. It is amazing that the creator and owner of the universe threw a challenge to those who would honour Him thus: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! (Malachi 3v10)
Third, there were heaps upon heaps as the people brought their gifts (2 Chron. 31v7). They had enough until there were leftovers. God, in diverse ways, heaps blessings upon His people. They might come as open doors, protection, marriages, employment, successful career, steady relationship and fellowship with God etc. He says: ‘for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end’ (Jeremiah 29v11).
As we prepare for Harvest, this season, may we receive God’s abundant blessings.Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.